In a report this weekend from The Inquirer’s Scott Lauber, Phillies managing partner John Middleton, while speaking highly of president Andy MacPhail in interviews with the media, would prefer if he either retires a year early or steps down from his position. MacPhail has made it known that once his contract is up after 2021 that he will be retiring from the game.
Middleton is already on the search for a GM, as Matt Klentak surprisingly stepped down last week. He would prefer to replace the entire baseball operations department at the same time, and doesn’t feel comfortable with the tandem of MacPhail and interim GM Ned Rice going into next season.
Middleton wants to hire both a president and a GM to run this team, like he did back in 2015 hiring MacPhail and Klentak. The idea back then was that MacPhail would help groom Klentak and have a big say in roster decisions, a la the Chicago Cubs with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Instead, MacPhail was much more passive in his role as president and allowed Klentak to have free reign building the team.
And we all saw how that turned out…..
As I have said before, this will be a defining offseason for the Phillies franchise. There could, and should, be a huge amount of roster turnover, with Matt Gelb seeing only three players out of the 20 players on the roster who are either free agents, have a team option, or are eligible for arbitration as locks to return in 2021.
MacPhail has not warranted staying on as president of this team any longer. He, along with Klentak, were brought in to build another playoff team, reminiscent of the teams of the late 2000’s. Five years later, and the team is no closer to the type of juggernaut that was envisioned for them. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2011 and, worst than that, their farm system is bare of impact players.
And that’s after picking in the Top-10 of the first round in three out of the last four drafts.
It will be very hard to attract a big name to lead the Phillies if MacPhail is still in the president position. Any person coming in to run the baseball operations department would want to hit the ground running, as anyone with eyes can see that this team has a ton of glaring holes that need to be filled. While I am sure MacPhail wouldn’t hinder someone brought in from making the moves they see fit, it will be awkward having a president and a ‘president’. It would be much easier and smoother to bring in new voices if MacPhail is not there.
While MacPhail being replaced is easy in concept, 2020 has made it all the more difficult. Not only are players’ salaries important, but all employees make money. It would be hard to fire MacPhail and still pay him money due to his contract. Every dollar spent is under the microscope in the current climate, and Middleton will not want to pay someone to not be working.
In 2020, the Phillies lost an estimated $186.1 million in revenue with no fans in attendance. While it certainly wasn’t the most in the league (the Yankees lost a reported $437 million), it still was in the top half of the league. Every dollar, regardless of where it’s spent, is important to the operation of this team going forward.
Should MacPhail still have a job? Absolutely not.
Will he be back next year? Only time will tell.